A PROJECT to protect birds in County Durham has been given a boost after a man left a £5,000 legacy towards helping protect the area he loved.

Thomas Raine always had a soft spot for Teesdale despite moving away from the area some years ago.

When he died he left £5,000 to the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) to carry out work in the dale.

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The Durham branch of the CPRE has decided to use some of the funding in order to provide support to an RSPB scheme.

The bird charity is to survey areas of Baldersdale and Lunedale to discover the number of wading birds, such as Lapwing, Curlew and Snipe, present there.

The scheme is one of 27 nationally and it is hoped to work with farmers to help protect the birds and the rare environments in which they live.

Ian Moorhouse, a former chairman of the Teesdale CPRE branch, said that Mr Raine, originally from Mickleton, near Barnard Castle, loved the area throughout his life.

“He wanted to give something back to keep it beautiful. I’m not sure when he died but he was just a son of the dale. The legacy was unexpected but it was a nice surprise.

“We’re going to help support a long-term RSPB scheme. They are doing quite serious research to find out details about bird numbers and habitat and we felt that they should be supported.”

The CPRE has lodged the funds with the Mid Teesdale Project Partnership charity which will pass them onto the RSPB in due course.

No work on the survey will be done before the autumn months so as not to disturb the birds when they are nesting.

Janet Fairclough, the RSPB's conservation adviser for the project, said: “We are delighted to be associated on this project with CPRE.

“We are particularly pleased that Mr Raine's legacy will help us to assist farmers in carrying out work to improve habitats for wildlife by, for instance, removing rushes, or creating shallow pools for wading birds.”

Farmers in the Baldersdale and Lunedale areas can request a visit by the RSPB to discuss wildlife on their farms.

Details on RSPB visits can be obtained from Janet Fairclough on 07866554169 or via email at janet.fairclough@rspb.org.uk